The History of Motion Pictures

By Maurice Bardèche; Robert Brasillach et al. | Go to book overview

1. The American Film

INVENTIONS

THE experiments which led up to the talkies had started almost immediately after the war. The development of electrical devices, the multiplicity of laboratories and the progress of radio had constituted a set of favorable conditions. By 1924 the principles that were to serve as a basis for sound-on-film recording, as opposed to the use of phonograph discs, had been clearly established and important solutions of the various problems had been discovered, though none of the results were capable of practical applications.* The electrical or radio concerns which had chiefly devoted themselves to these experiments were RCA, General Electric, Westinghouse and Bell Telephone Laboratories, as well as numerous private inventors. In the film world William Fox alone commissioned an engineer to pursue experiments of this kind.

At the beginning of 1926 the Bell Laboratories had perfected a synchronizing process called Vitaphone. The inventors addressed themselves to Zukor and to his principal competitors, urging the purchase of their patents. These rulers of the American film world pondered, conferred and finally decided that the invention was of no interest. The Bell Laboratories approached

____________________
*
The basic elements of sound-on-film recording were known to physicists, in both Europe and America, well before 1900. Due, however, to the infinitely small amount of sound energy available for audio reproduction, this knowledge was no practical use. It was not until the decade following the World War, when the vacuum tube amplifier was perfected, that the art of sound-on-film recording and reproduction became commercially possible.
This was a method of sound reproduction utilizing the disc mechanically coupled to the film projector to insure synchronization with the audio output electrically amplified.

-305-

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The History of Motion Pictures
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page ii
  • Contents v
  • Foreword xi
  • Translator's Note *
  • Part One - The Birth of the Film 1895-1908 1
  • Part Two - The Prewar Film 1908-1914 37
  • Part Three - The Cinema during the World War 1914-1918 91
  • 1 - The Italian Film 95
  • 2 - The American Film 98
  • 3 - The French Film 127
  • 4 - The German Film and the Danish Film 134
  • 5 - The Swedish Film 136
  • 6 - The Russian Film 140
  • Part Four - The Emergence of an Art 1919-1923 145
  • 1 - The French Film 147
  • 2 - The Russian Film 168
  • 4 - The German Film 187
  • 5 - The Italian Film 196
  • 6 - The American Film 199
  • Part Five - The Classic Era of the Silent Film 1923-1929 223
  • 1 - The French Film 225
  • 2 - The German Film 251
  • 3 - The Scandinavian Film 263
  • 4 - The Russian Film 266
  • 5 - The American Film 283
  • 6 - The Death of Art 300
  • Part Six - The Talking Films 1929-1935 303
  • 1 - The American Film 305
  • 3 - The German Film 341
  • 4 - The Russian Film 353
  • 5 - A World Industry 361
  • Part Seven - Forty Years of Film 367
  • Editorial Postscript: 1935-1938 381
  • Index of Film Titles 391
  • General Index 405
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